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Ideas for a better Information Architecture with SharePoint (Part 3)

This blog post is part of a series of posts on new ideas to structure information in SharePoint. There are 5 parts in this series:


Part 1: Every document has its process …

Part 2: … with its own pattern of workflow …

– Part 3: … with its own author(s) and audience … (this post)

Part 4: … and its own collaboration and publication structure.


Every document type has its author/audience pattern

When organizations go through their first cycle of implementing SharePoint, the structuring of the information grows more or less organically. In many cases the SharePoint sites are organized along the hierarchical lines of Business Units, Departments, etc. This leads to the result that information is mostly published by the author of the content and that he/she publishes that content on the site where that persons works most.  In other words: information is often published in the structure that the author has in mind.

Example: Finance stores the Finance-related procedures on the Finance site, and HR stores the HR-related procedures on the HR site.

The biggest disadvantage of this approach is that the audience of the content is faced with challenge to try to find out who wrote the content he is looking for in order to find it. Wouldn’t it be much easier if the content was stored from the point of view of the audience in the first place?


From the Workflow Patterns I discussed in Part 2, one can see that the author/audience relationship is different from pattern to pattern:

  1. – Information Push-without-Workflow: 1 Author, many Readers
  2. – Information Push-with-Workflow: Authors=Readers for the Workflow part, afterwards many Readers
  3. – Business Process: Authors = Readers
  4. – Collaboration: Authors = Readers
    There are mainly 2 combinations:
    – Either a small number of people are working on a document (be it in a formal workflow or in unstructured collaboration mode),
    – Or the content is made available to a large audience to read the information.

The message here is: when defining an Information Structure, or when determining the location in SharePoint where content should be stored, make sure you know the Audience of the content. The information should be easy to find for the Audience (after all, the Author already knows where he put it, right?).

Part 4 of this series of blog posts examines the possible consequences for the structure of your SharePoint environment (to be published).


Contact: marc.vanderheyden@spikes.be

Check also: www.spikestogether.be


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